Those of my generation will remember a brown text book we used in Std. 7 called “Primary Level Mathematics”, it was written by Surjeet Singh Bamrah. So you can imagine my awe when I met him as I joined Jamhuri High School in 1982 and to realize he was one of the teachers. Then as if that was not enough he became my first mathematics teacher in secondary school. He was a very active old man. It was said he was in his seventies
though in my mind he must have been a few years younger than Adam (Cain and Abel’s dad) but he was very active all the same. Another fascinating thing about Singh was that he had two pairs of glasses; one for outdoors and then one that he would change into as soon as he entered class. When he got upset, which was very often, he would ask questions like these
“Your behavior depends on your society, does your mother do that?”
“Your behavior depends on your society, do you live in a zoo?”
“Do you want me to impact you with a very fast movement of my fist?”
The Asian accent made it even funnier.
In the same year, I was diagnosed as short-sighted and was therefore required to be in glasses full time. Spectacles are not easy to get used to for a boy in Form One. They were a major distraction for me in class even though my vision was amazingly clear. Some times I would lodge my pencil on my ear and not feel it due to the spectacles and would spend the whole day in class without a pencil thinking I have lost it. Soon it was my protractor, and those set-square thingies they had in those Oxford Mathematical Sets. During one of the maths classes, Singh found me with all manner of mathematical instruments in my face and for some reason he did not find it as funny as my classmates did.
“Come, let’s go for a walk”, he said, more like a command than a suggestion.
Whenever Singh told you that, he meant he was taking you to the Headmaster’s office for caning. Now for the young ones who may not understand caning, this was a practice that your backside never forgot. Our headmaster seemed to have a collection of canes that were supposed to cause an extent of pain commensurate with the degree of the offence. As we walked with Singh towards the Headmaster’s office while he changed into his outdoors glasses, I pleaded with him, making all manner of promises and commitments to good behavior from then until I reach his age, but he would have none of it. About halfway to the office, we were about to pass a prefect but Singh stopped him and instructed him to take me to the headmaster instead.
“It does not make sense for the other boys to miss a class while I take this delinquent to be caned”, he reasoned. So I was handed over to the prefect and Singh went back to class.
In an amazing turn of events, the prefect who was now my “prison warder” happened to be the Chairman of the Christian Union and he decided to take the opportunity to tell me about Christ. He used my offence to help me understand sin, judgment and eternity. Of course I had heard all this stuff from my mum, my granddad and our Sunday school teacher. That was when I had one of the brightest ideas I have ever had in my life.
“I want to get saved now, I want to accept Christ as my personal saviour now.” I said to the prefect.
“What? Are you sure? Now? Here? Would you pray with me?”, he asked. I could see tears welling up in his eyes. He then proceeded to tell me things to pray after him and to this day I can’t get over how excited he was.
“Daniel, do you realize that right now there are angels rejoicing in heaven because of the decision you have made?” he said. I just nodded, scared that this grown man was about to burst into song. Now which prefect would then proceed to take heaven’s latest entrant to be caned? He told me to go back to class. I was saved. In more ways than one. Pure genius.
This was the beginning of my spiritual journey. I started hanging out with the CU chairman and he took quite a liking to me. I was more like his pet, he would introduce me to anyone he met as a new believer. I started attending CU meetings where I met a mzungu called Robin Tyner from an organisation called The Navigators. He would come on a motorcycle during lunch on Wednesday and would seek me out. He had me memorizing a pack of Bible verses on cards. He would get so emotional when I managed to recite a verse word for word including the reference in the Bible. This for me was getting a bit too much. Grown men almost crying for absolutely no reason. In days that I did not have the verse of the week in my head I would make sure Robin would never find me though. No need to make him cry for not having memorized the verse ama?
There was a time during CU that some guests from a charismatic Church came to preach. The guy preaching got a bit crazy and said that we will all “speak in tongues”. He said no one would leave the room without speaking in tongues. He asked all who did not yet speak in tongues to raise their hands. The guy was shouting and seemed quite upset so I decided to own up together with the others who did not have the gift yet. To this day, I don’t know why preachers shout so much even when they have a microphone. Some work themselves into quite a frenzy that can freak you out if you are not used to that sort of thing. Anyway, we went forward and while the main guy prayed, his assistants came to us “non-tongue speakers” and urged us to say whatever came to our minds to get started. The main guy repeated that no one was going to leave the room until we speak in tongues.
I looked at my watch and realized that if this tongues thing does not happen I was going to get home very late. What was I to do? I said whatever came to my mind
“Orranbbaaasshanndaaarraabaaabooos……” I began.
“Hallelujah, hallelujah!” the assistants exclaimed. “This one has started!” They shouted pointing at me. They were ecstatic. This Christianity thing was getting too emotional for me. I continued muttering incomprehensibles and even began to quite enjoy it. After a while I was allowed to go home. Pure genius.
To me this thing of salvation was one big joke.
Until sometime when I was in Fourth Form, my mum fell quite sick. She was admitted in Kenyatta Hospital.For the first time, our family had a problem that my dad couldn’t easily sort out. I would pray for my mum so much. I would walk all the way from Jamhuri to Kenyatta to see her. Sometimes the guards would refuse me to go in as visiting hours had not reached yet. I devised an interesting way of beating the system. I would put a piece of cotton in my arm and bend my elbow pretending I had just given a blood sample. Then I would pass quickly through saying things like
“Dr. Wekesa told me to go back immediately to get the results…”
and looking like i was in quite a lot of pain and in a big hurry. Sometimes the guards would even push people aside to make way for me. Pure genius.
During this time of my mum’s hospitalization, the sixty verses I memorized in Form Two started to work on me. I became quite convicted about sin, death and judgment for real. I began to understand the things my mum, my granddad and my sunday school teachers and even my CU chairman used to say. One time, in the privacy of my room at home, I prayed and for real accepted Jesus into my heart. No pressure, no person to impress, manipulate or to cry. It was just me, God and His word. Proving the following verse true
Isaiah 55:11 (New International Version, ©2011)
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Have you met the Lord? If so how did you meet the Lord?